“Triumph and Tragedy” – the 1958 F1 Season

When the 1958 Formula One season opened the sport was very different than it had been just six or seven months before. The Le Mans disaster in 1955, which had taken the lives of 77 spectators, had called into question whether motor racing should be outlawed. In react, Switzerland would ban motor racing, a ban which largely exists to this day.

For Enzo Ferrari he was suffering personal and professional trials. In 1956 his son Alfredo (Dino) had died from muscular dystrophy. While in 1957 he was charged with manslaughter by the Italian government after 13 people, manly children, were killed at the Mille Miglia, when Ferrari driver Alonso de Portago crashed into a crowd of spectators. The lawsuit against Ferrari wouldn’t be resolved until 1961, when he was found not guilty.

(Alfredo “Dino” and Enzo Ferrari in 1947)

The 1958 season would open in Argentina in January and finish in Morrocco in October. There were 11 races. The Indianapolis 500 was in 1958 still part of the F1 championship, but as the race has no impact, I will not include it in this story. That will make the championship 10 races. Points were scored from 1st to 5th, with points being 8–6–4–3–2  and drivers could only score from their top six results. The season was as follows:

Round                     Grand Prix                   Circuit                                      Date 

1    Argentine GP                         Oscar Alfredo Gálvez,                19 January

2     Monaco GP                               Monte Carlo                                          18 May

3      Dutch GP                                  Zandvoort                                              26 May

4      Belgian GP                               Spa-Francorchamps                         15 June

5      French GP                                Reims-Gueux                                          6 July

6       British GP                                Silverstone                                            19 July

7       West Germany GP             Nürburgring                                        3 August

8       Portuguese GP                   Circuito da Boavista                     24 August

9        Italian GP                    Autodromo di Monza                       7 September

10     Moroccan GP         Ain-Diab Circuit, Casablanca           19 October


The favorite to win the championship was Moss, but the Vanwall was unreliable. Hawthorn in the Ferrari had reliability but not the speed of Moss. The season would be an epic battle.

Race 1 Argentina:

The opening race was in Argentina.  As Vanwall had decided to not go to the race and continue to develop their car, Moss would do a one-off for Rob Walker’s privateer Cooper team. Incidentally, Walker was the heir to the Johnny Walker whiskey fortune, and would sponsor may drivers during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  For Moss it was the perfect start to the season. He won the race by 2 seconds, with Musso second and Haythorn third. It is also interesting to note that Walkers Cooper was the first rear-engined F1 car to win a race. The points after Argentina were:

1 Stirling Moss 8
2 Luigi Musso 6
3 Mike Hawthorn 4
4 Juan Manuel Fangio 4
5 Jean Behra 2


Race 2 Monaco

Monaco in 1958 was like today the crown-jewel of the F1 season. In 1958 many teams / drivers would only do that race. For Vanwall the season started here. Moss would be now with the team and be partnered by Brooks and Lewis-Evans. For the second race in a row the Cooper, this time driven by Maurice Trintignant, would win, and the questions got loader, maybe the rear-engined cars were unbeatable. For Ferrari a lot of questions had been answered. The 246 was as solid as a rock, though not as fast. For Vanwall and Cooper their cars were fast but fragile. With two races done it looked like Ferrari was the team to beat.

Bernie Ecclestone at Monaco 1958

Monaco 1958 Results

1 Maurice Trintignant CooperClimax
2 Luigi Musso Ferrari
3 Peter Collins Ferrari
4 Jack Brabham CooperClimax
5 Harry Schell BRM


Drivers’ Championship Standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Luigi Musso 12
2 Stirling Moss 8
3 Maurice Trintignant 8
4 Mike Hawthorn 5
5 Peter Collins 4

Race 3 Netherlands

The Dutch GP was the third race of season. The race would begin to answer the questions of how fast and reliable the Vanwall’s were, and whether Ferrari was really a contender. After the race had finished a clearer picture was emerging. Moss in the Vanwall was the drivers to beat. The Cooper while quick was unreliable and BRM had opted to go with reliability over speed. Ferrari had a revised engine for the next race in Belgium. It would now be a two team fight.


1 Stirling Moss Vanwall 75 91
2 Harry Schell BRM 75 6
3 Jean Behra BRM 75 4
4 Roy Salvadori CooperClimax 74 3
5 Mike Hawthorn Ferrari 74 2


1 Stirling Moss 17
2 Luigi Musso 12
3 Maurice Trintignant 8
4 4 Harry Schell 8
1 5 Mike Hawthorn 7

Race 4 Belgium

The forth race of the season was held at Spa. In 1958 Spa at 24 laps was the shortest race of the season. The Ferrari engine upgrades gave the car a lot more speed with no lose of reliability.  The race would confirm that it was now a two-team fight, Vanwall against Ferrari.

Brooks with Moss

Even though Brooks won the race, the upgraded Ferrari was now near the Vanwall’s race pace. It was beginning to look like a Moss versus Hawthorn fight for the championship.

1 Tony Brooks Vanwall 24 8
2 Mike Hawthorn Ferrari 24 7
3 Stuart Lewis-Evans Vanwall 24 4
4 Cliff Allison LotusClimax 24 3
5 10 Harry Schell BRM 23 2


1 Stirling Moss 17
2 Mike Hawthorn 14
3 Luigi Musso 12
4 Harry Schell 10
5 Maurice Trintignant 8

Race 5 France

The French GP was the half-way mark of the 1958 season. It was held at Reins and was the highest paying race of the season. Practice confirmed the Ferraris were quick, with Hawthorn and Musso one-two and Collins fourth. Moss could do no better than sixed. For Musso things were desperate. He was deeply in debt and needed the prizemoney to pay off creditors or possibly be arrested.

As the race started the Ferrari’s of Hawthorn and Musso raced off leaving the others will behind. On lap 9 tragedy occurred, Musso lost control of his at the chicane and crashed. Taken to a local hospital he would die two hours later. The championship was now a fight between Hawthorn and Moss.

Luigi Musso

1 Mike Hawthorn Ferrari 50 9
2 Stirling Moss Vanwall 50 6
3 Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari 50 4
4 Juan Manuel Fangio Maserati 50 3
5 Peter Collins Ferrari 50 2


1 Stirling Moss 23
2 Mike Hawthorn 23
3 Luigi Musso 12
4 Harry Schell 10
5 Maurice Trintignant 8


Race 6 Great Britain

As F1 moved to Britain for the 6th race of the season, the championship was becoming clearer. The Ferrari upgrades had made the car reliable, Vanwall was still slightly quicker but the reliability problems were still there.

The race would be an easy win for Ferrari, with Collins winning and Hawthorn second. Moss would suffer yet another DNF. Hawthorn had now caught Moss for the driver’s championship, and things were looking good for Ferrari. Of interest, Bernie Ecclestone had given up driving F1 to become an owners, entering two drivers in his new Connaught-Alta privateer team.

1 Peter Collins Ferrari 75 8
2 Mike Hawthorn Ferrari 75 7
3 Roy Salvadori CooperClimax 75 4
4 Stuart Lewis-Evans Vanwall 75 3
5 Harry Schell BRM 75 2


1 1 Mike Hawthorn 30
1 2 Stirling Moss 23
8 3 Peter Collins 14
1 4 Luigi Musso 12
1 5 Harry Schell 12


Race 7 West Germany

The West German GP was the 7th race of the season. Held at the Nürburgring, the organizers made the unusual decision to run an F2 race at the same time as the F1 race. The F1 cars would get their starting position separately from the F2 cars. The intent was that the cars would quickly separate and the two different groups wouldn’t bother each other. That was the theory.

As the race started the fears that the cars wouldn’t separate went away, as the F1 raced away. The promoters had dodged a bullet. But on lap 10 disaster struck. Collins went into the Pflanzgarten too quickly. The car hit the guard rails and flipped over. By the time race workers got to the car, Collins was dead. He was the second Ferrari driver to die in a month.

Peter Collins fatal crash

The final results had little impact on the championship. Brooks won with von Trips, who was preplacing Musso, fourth. Winning the F2 race and coming 5th F2 overall was a young driver from New Zealand named Bruce McLaren. Next race was Portugal.

1 Tony Brooks VanWall 15 2:21:15.0 8
2 Roy Salvadori Cooper-Climax 15 +3:29.7 6
3 Maurice Trintignant Cooper-Climax 15 +5:11.2 4
4 Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari 15 +6:16.3 3


1 Mike Hawthorn 30
2 Stirling Moss 24
4 3 Tony Brooks 16
1 4 Peter Collins 14
4 5 Roy Salvadori 13

Race 8 Portugal

The 8th race of the season was held in Portugal. The race was very controversial. In qualifying both Moss and Hawthorn would post the same qualifying time, which started am argument between Ferrari and Vanwall as to where each driver should start. Then during the race Hawthorn spun off the circuit and appeared to restart his engine facing the oncoming cars. For this he was disqualified. Moss, who had seen Hawthorn spin, went to the stewards and said Hawthorn ever left the circuit. That was enough for the stewards to reinstate Hawthorn’s second place. That honesty would ultimately cost Moss the championship. Of not, the F2 race was won by a young driver from New Zealand named Bruce McLaren.

Hawthorn left 24, Moss right 2.


1 2 Stirling Moss Vanwall 50 2:11:27.80 1 8
2 24 Mike Hawthorn Ferrari 50 + 5:12.75 2 71
3 6 Stuart Lewis-Evans Vanwall 49 + 1 Lap 3 4
4 8 Jean Behra BRM 49 + 1 Lap 4 3
5 22 Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari 49 + 1 Lap 6 2


1 Mike Hawthorn 36 (37)
2 Stirling Moss 32
3 Tony Brooks 16
4 Peter Collins 14
5 Roy Salvadori 13


Race 9 Italy Monza

The ninth race of the season was the Italian GP held at Monza. The Vanwall’s of Moss and Brooks qualified 1-2, and the Ferrari of Hawthorn 3rd. The race itself had the bizarre event of the Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati of Shelby having an engine failure on the first lap to be replaced by Gregory in the spare car. Gregory would finish 4th and keep the position but not score any points. The race itself was following a familiar pattern, with Moss failing to finish and Hawthorn coming second. The title would be settled in the last race in Morrocco.



Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 28 Tony Brooks Vanwall 70 2:03:47.8 2 8
2 14 Mike Hawthorn Ferrari 70 + 24.2 3 6
3 18 Phil Hill Ferrari 70 + 28.3 7 51
4 32 Masten Gregory
Carroll Shelby
Maserati 69 + 1 Lap 11 02
5 6 Roy Salvadori CooperClimax 62 + 8 Laps 14 2


Pos Driver Points
1 Mike Hawthorn 40 (43)
2 Stirling Moss 32
3 Tony Brooks 24
1 4 Roy Salvadori 15
1 5 Peter Collins 14

Race 10 Morocco

The final race of the season was the Moroccan GP. It was to be the only F1 race held in Morocco.

Qualifying save the Ferrari of Hawthorn take pole and Moss second. There were 3 Ferrari’s and 3 Vanwall’s in the top seven. Only Behra in the BRM, who qualified 4th, was close. The race would be similar to West Germany where F2 cars would also be racing. As the race started Moss quickly took the read. Hawthorn was content to sit in season as that was all be needed to win the drivers championship. On lap 41 tragedy for Vanwall. Lewis-Evans crashed and his car burst into flames. He was taken from the car with severe burns and airlifted to London. He was to die six days later.


Hawthorn drove the car to an easy second, enough to win the championship. Moss who won the race, would be runner up again. Once the race was over, Hawthorn who had been diagnosed with kidney disease, retired. Tragically, just three months after winning the F1 championship, Hawthorn would be killed in a motor accident when racing his friend on a city street outside London.

Mike Hawthorn’s fatal crash

The 1958 F1 season was a seminal point for the sport. The front-engine cars would win their last title. The new world in F1 was aerodynamics. Enzo Ferrari was a genius but his belief that horsepower was key was proven wrong by the British teams, like Lotus and Brabham, the age of aerodynamics has arrived.


Ian @CavallinoRampa2